Robot joins staff of Cedar Rapids restaurant

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A robot is at work in Cedar Rapids, and it might not be where you would expect it.

Barrel House in downtown Cedar Rapids started using a robot to deliver food to tables last Wednesday.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were at a food show in Chicago,” said Shawnen Youngman, General Manager. “We got introduced to one of our little friends that we now have along with us.”

The owner liked the robot and there is now one in two out of the five stores that are now open. With the robot came some anxiety, though.

“As a server, it was, ‘Is it going to replace me?’” said Sarena Wilhelm. However, after a week of working with the robot, Wilhelm no longer has that feeling. “It’s a big help because if we’re busy out here cleaning a table or taking an order for another table, it brings itself out here and we can just step over and serve.”

Youngman calls the robot an “assistant” for servers.

Youngman said the robot is not taking away jobs; in fact, the restaurant is hiring. “I’m down by about 34% worth of employees that we could have here and what we need to have to be fully operational.” He added, “We’re looking at about another 12 more people that we could get on board our team here.”

Heather and Whitney Vance are sisters-in-law and were celebrating Heather’s birthday the afternoon the restaurant showed the robot to KCRG.

When asked if restaurants should have robots, Whitney said, “If it makes things more convenient for the servers, yeah.” Heather said, “I think it’s mixed because the server still has to be there to hand you your food so, they’re still there.”

Seeing a robot in a restaurant was novel, but neither said she had positive or negative feelings about it. Heather said she “had no preference” and Whitney added, “I don’t really have a preference either. I think it’s good for things to develop and stuff. So I think it’ll just kind of depend on how people think of it and what it looks like.”

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.